Turkish Gardens

For millennia, the cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens) has been much beloved throughout the Mediterranean region. The tree was an important element of Byzantine gardens. Among the Ottomans, it was particularly popular. The example of the importance they attached to this tree can be seen in the original land-scaping of the Arsenal grounds.  After the conquest of Constantinople, Mehmed II ordered that a garden be created at the spot where he had made his first encampment during the siege. At Mehmed’s order, twelve thousand cypresses were planted here in "a checkerboard pattern". The sultan himself planted seven of them with his own hands. A miniature of this garden from 1676 confirms the presence of cypresses. In the miniatures depicting the spectacles on the Golden Horn in the Surname of Ahmed III, thick groves of these trees are to be seen in the Tersane garden and along the shores. (Gaznevî Albümü, T5461, 25b.)

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